PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan announced a comprehensive player compensation plan Wednesday that will guarantee $500,000 per year to exempt players applied to their earnings, the addition of four more tournaments with elevated purses in addition to the 12 that were announced in June and doubling the number of players and amount of money for the Player Impact Program, which measures player engagement across media platforms.
Under the “Earnings Assurance Program,” which begins in 2023, rookies will receive the $500,000 upfront. If veterans fall below $500,000 in earnings, the Tour will compensate them for the shortfall.
The PIP rankings will go from 10 to 20 players and earnings from $50 million to $100 million, retroactive to this season.
Monahan also announced a $5,000 travel stipend per tournament for non-exempt players who miss cuts, a two-year exemption for being among the top-30 players on the FedEx Cup points list who make it to the Tour Championships and Life membership awarded to players who win 20 or more tournaments and removing the 15 years of service criteria.
The changes and other possible enhancements were discussed at a meeting last week in Wilmington, Del., with Tiger Woods and 22 other players in the BMW Championship. Rory McIlroy was at that meeting and he said the commissioner’s response is what the group anticipated.
“I care deeply about our sport, its history, its legacy, the integrity of the game,” he said at East Lake. “A lot of players out here who are like-minded and share those views. For the first time in a long time, we all sat down and said, ‘let’s try to be business partners. How can we pull together to benefit everyone and help the Tour. All of those players bought into the vision and that has culminated in some of the announcements made today. I think today was a great step in the right direction.”
The moves were made in reaction to the LIV Golf Series, which has offered billions to the top players in the world. Nearly 20 PGA Tour members have jumped to the circuit, financed by the Saudi Public Investment Fund, and more are rumored after this week’s Tour Championship — led by Players champion Cameron Smith.
Monahan said the Tour remains the strongest professional golf circuit with the most meaningful competition.
“This is a remarkable time for the Tour,” Monahan said. “We have and always will be the ultimate platform for a player who wants to compete for the trophies and the titles that matter most. To now have our top players rally around this organization and commit to a portfolio of tournaments like never before, I think our fans, our partners, our players are going to love it. I promise you, there’s more to come.”
Monahan said the money is available from three sources: Reserves; the Tour performing this season ahead of budget; and sponsors, who he said have responded to the Tour’s success.
“Our partners, our sponsors … want to get behind and are getting behind the direction that we’re going in, want to be a part of the continued growth and evolution of the Tour,” he said. “They recognize that with the changes we’re talking about today, the changes that we’ve made prior to today, and the direction we’re heading in, we’re going to be creating more value. When you create more value, you’re going to get more income coming into the business.”
The four elevated events will have purses increasing to an average of $20 million.
They will be added to eight other events — Sentry Tournament of Champions ($15 million), Genesis Invitational ($20 million), Arnold Palmer Invitational ($20 million), Players Championship ($25 million), Dell Technologies WGC-Match Play ($20 million), Memorial ($20 million), FedEx St. Jude Championship ($20 million) and BMW Championship ($20 million) — plus the four majors — where the top players have committed to appearing in the same fields more often.
Monahan said the top players also will commit to three additional Tour events. The overall increase for purses for the 2022-23 FedEx Cup season will be about $46 million.
Monahan also said any Tour players who were suspended when they went to the LIV Golf Series without obtaining a release from the Tour will not be welcomed back if they see the increased financial package on the PGA Tour and want to return.
“They’ve joined the LIV Golf Series and they’ve made that commitment,” he said. “For most of them, they’ve made multiyear commitments. As I’ve been clear throughout, every player has a choice, and I respect their choice, but they’ve made it. We’ve made ours. We’re going to continue to focus on the things that we control and get stronger and stronger.”
Monahan also said the Tour will remain a 501(c)(6) non-profit trade association and not give up its tax-exempt status.
“The 501(c)(6) status and the integrity of that and all it does for us will always be a central fabric to our organization,” he said, referring to its ability to donate $3 billion in charity since 1933. “Our impact in communities, our history, our legacy is a point of differentiation for our sport and Tour and will continue to be that way.”
Contact Garry Smits at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @GSmitter
This article originally appeared on Florida Times-Union: PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan announces increased player pay